UK Government Departments Ordered To Remove Chinese Security Cameras

UK Government Departments Ordered To Remove Chinese Security Cameras

The British government has ordered its departments to stop installing Chinese-made security cameras at ‘sensitive’ sites, citing security concerns.

In a written statement, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden has told MPs that, following a review, new controls were required.

“Departments have therefore been instructed to cease deployment of such equipment onto sensitive sites, where it is produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China,” he writes.

“Since security considerations are always paramount around these sites, we are taking action now to prevent any security risks materialising.”

Departments, says Dowden, should also make sure that no Chinese-made surveillance equipment is connected to departmental core networks. They should consider removing any that’s already in place, and whether certain ‘non-sensitive’ sites should be subject to the same controls.

The concern hinges on the fact that companies such as Hikvision and Dahua – whose cameras are widely installed outside government offices – are required by China’s National Intelligence Law 2017 to support national intelligence work.

Advertisement

Earlier this year, a group of politicians and lawmakers called on the government to ban the sale and use of equipment from both companies across the UK. The products, they said, were believed to be widely used in China’s Xinjiang province as tools of repression against the Muslim Uighur people – claims denied by the companies concerned.

The companies’ products are already banned in the US for similar reasons, with the government saying they aided ‘repression, mass arbitrary detention and high-technology surveillance’.

Meanwhile, the European parliament last year removed the thermal cameras it was using to check for covid symptoms following similar complaints.

Campaign group Big Brother Watch has welcomed the government’s decision, but says it doesn’t go far enough.

“The government’s decision to end the deployment of Hikvision and Dahua surveillance equipment is an important first step, but the protection afforded to ministers and civil servants must be expanded to all of us. Our research has found that Chinese state-owned CCTV is used by over 60 per cent of public bodies,” says legal and policy officer Madeleine Stone.

“Now the government has acknowledged the risk these companies pose to national security, they should protect the public at large and ban Hikvision and Dahua from operating anywhere in the UK. It is unacceptable that companies that pose a real risk to security and rights are allowed to operate on the streets of Britain.”

Hikvision denies the claims that it could be passing on information to the Chinese government, claiming it does not share data with third parties.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *